Vitamin B-6 may help people remember their dreams
Tired of waking up in the morning with nothing you can use to bore your co-workers or classmates? Sick of restful sleep unburdened by the constant thought of waking life? A lot of rumors, and one study, indicate that Vitamin B-6 might be for you.
Although supposedly we dream every night, the substance of these dreams is lost. This makes sense, in a way. Dreams are thoughts, we flip through many of them per night just as we rush through many of them during the day. Recalling a dream should be as hard as recalling on of the random thoughts you’ve had in the last hour. Then again, dreams are more vivid than thoughts. They’re experienced, not thought, and they can be vivid and surreal. And yet so many of them go missing.
For a great deal of time, it was thought that large doses of B vitamins would help dream recall. Some people used them to boost the vividness of their dreams, some used them to remember the dream at all. Some even believed they would help induce lucid dreaming. The Mayo Clinic has ‘dream recall and sleep enhancement’ listed as one of the uses for Vitamin B, but the use is listed under ‘uses based on tradition or theory,’ rather than based on any studies.
In fact, there has been a study done on Vitamin B-6. In 2002, a study was done using twelve university students. Four were given 100 milligrams of B-6, four were given 250 milligrams of B-6, and four were given a placebo. Each were given these over a period of five days. The one who got the biggest dose of the B-6 had a higher rate of dream salience as determined by vividness, bizareness, emotionality, and color. What’s causing this? There is a theory that Vitamin B-6 converts the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, which wakes up the brain during REM sleep, and helps the mind both enhance and take stock of what it’s seeing. This is what may have helped those students remember their dreams.
Of course, it’s understandable why a single study didn’t lead the Mayo Clinic to change its designation of the use. The study runners themselves say that more research in more controlled conditions is necessary before any definite conclusions can be drawn. Recalling dreams may seem fun, but overdoses of Vitamin B can cause hearth palpitations, cramps, insomnia, high blood pressure, and panic attacks. Still, it’s a small piece of evidence in favor of dream recall.
That’s if one even wants to recall one’s dreams. I asked one person, who was directed to take extra Vitamin B for an unrelated condition, what it was like to recall dreams. The answer is, confusing and boring. Imagine seeing yourself taking out the garbage again and again and again for what seem like hours. Although there are plenty of bizarre dreams to be had in everyone’s mind, there are even more mundane ones. And there’s plenty of time to focus on the mundane while awake.